A Fortuitous Draft
When Madieu Williams went down in the pre-season, it accelerated Tyrell Johnson's learning curve into his own baptism of fire, as he found himself as an opening day starter at safety. As it were, this was truly a fortuitous Viking Draft Pick, as Madieu has found his way back into the safety slot, whereas Tyrell gained very valuable experience and a true feel for the defensive scheme and has recently found himself confounding defenses in a rather unique dime package scheme.
With the recent loss of Charles Gordon, it leaves a significant void in what has been perceived to be the Vikings Achilles heel ... defending the pass. What the depth chart would indicate is that this void would now need to be filled by either Benny Sapp or Marcus McCauley (who has been shut down for a number of weeks), but of great interest to me is in regard to Tyrell ... a man that has been on a steep learning curve all year ... and doing quite well dealing with all that life has to offer.
It is understood that Tyrell is viewed as the backup at the safety position, but overlooking Tyrell as a key to our nickel defense may be a mistake. What history has shown (a great deal of film) is that moving Winfield inside to cover the slot and tossing either Benny or Marcus back onto that Island may prove to be a monumental mistake. If your spelling a corner with Benny or Marcus, that's fine, but just taking a leap of faith that they can handle the island, which we all know will be heavily tested, leaves me nauseous. Tyrell, on the other hand, has the pulse of the defense coursing through his veins and has a genuine feel for the center game, and as a safety, he has the ability of fill those running lanes. If you find yourself having to take that leap of faith ... Tyrell just might be your man. At the very least, taking a page from Belichick, just might be enough to exacerbate an offensive scheme.
Doo doo doo ... doo doo doo ... Doo Doo! Doo doo doo ... doo doo doo ... Doo Doo! (Mission Impossible Theme)
A Marked Man
Now immerse yourself deeply into an instant in time, into an alternate universe, where your body is at maximum forward and directional acceleration with maximum applied leverage and torsional loads upon your body ... hindering and persuading your every movement toward that goal ... and somehow something goes terribly terribly wrong. Your foe is holding that trump card ... he does something that you don't expect ... he flinches ... his body neural network and structure fails ... he stumbles ... he throws you off that intended target. Your body now becomes nothing more than its total mass, submerged within the momentum part of the equation. The force of this momentum cannot be stopped ... only retarded or hindered. You are helpless to its outcome and its result. The result isn't good. The problem is that what we are describing here isn't an alternate universe ... it's today's NFL.
Like it or not, Jared Allen is one of the Minnesota Vikings highest profile players ... his contract value says so ... his play says even more, and that on its own become very compelling ... and somehow that is now deserving of a slow motion microscope of judgment. Let us never forget .... absolute power corrupts absolutely ... so don't even ask me to trust what you do. I don't think I'm alone here on this assessment. Jared has a past ... and he's done a remarkable job at keeping himself clean. His whole outlook on life has changed ... maybe for all time ... and maybe, he just might become a beacon for the future. Unfortunately, we all know the history of the Vikings highest profile athletes. The difference, in this case, is that the league has not issued a statement that Jared Allen has failed a uniformly applied drug test, or was in some sort of bar room brawl that resulted in an arrest and conviction. No, the league issued a $50,000 fine, for two low hits in his game versus Houston. What do you think Jared's chances are in his appeal? Could the decision on his character, the one and only true measure of his manhood, be absolute?
Now don't get me wrong. We all now know, for a fact, that Jared Allen sees $50,000 as a huge hit, as he went on record stating that he thought Plexico's $45,000 fine was allot of money not only for the common man, but for any man, for that matter. In Jared's opinion he stated that Plexico's fine was excessive, well before Jared's incident ever occurred. Even so, the money, being significant or not, is not the real issue. Now, and for all time, Jared can try to say over and over again that he is not a dirty player or a cheap shot artist ... but this league fine has now labeled him for all time ... like it or not. Any writer, announcer or commentator can point to this league fine, once its resolved by the league, and will use this league judgment as being definitive proof of his character ... and that ladies and gentlemen ... is just wrong.
There are many reasons why the leagues fine policies are unacceptable. First and foremost is that it is a judgment that is not uniformly applied. For example, the hit that ended Culpepper's Viking career, a Viking quarterback, meant absolutely nothing to either the Panthers or the athlete that applied the low blow. Why didn't the value of the Minnesota Viking's quarterback rise to the occasion of this very same standard. Oh yeah ... that's different somehow. Secondly, and maybe most importantly of all ... should the league be in the business of providing definitive judgment, and therefore the stigma of labels, for its athletes ... especially when that athlete is in the act of doing his job ... where someone gets to definitively state, this should of happened this way, not that! Why is this so compelling ... it's because we don't trust the league to apply any standard concisely ... because history clearly indicates that some count and other don't. Ladies and gentlemen ... this league-wide fine policy is more than just a slippery slope ... it's the very definition of ambiguity. Are we all just supposed to accept this judgment on Jared's character blindly ... like nice little sheep? In my book, the issue of Jared's character ... and therefore his future sane health ... more than rises to the occassion.
Can I commend of condemn Jared Allen's play versus Houston ... apparently that's not the point! As Viking fans, we feel comfortable leaving that decision with his maker. All we can tell you Jared ... is that we all collectively hear you!
What we can definitively tell you is that we are all quite tired and quite weary of the progression.
In my opinion, it is the duty of the commissioner and the League itself to separate the occurence, from finding of fact, and until this happens ... we won't go away. Being guilty by association is not acceptable.
The Viking Ghost